Did you know that a dripping tap can waste around 20,000 litres of water in a year? That’s water for more than 20 days for an average household in India. If you’ve ever wondered how to fix leaky taps yourself, it isn’t a difficult job at all. In fact, it may even be easier than calling your plumber who never comes on time.
If your tap is leaking, it is most likely due to either of the following two reasons:
1. Washer Problem – If the tap continues to drip after you have turned it off tightly, it is most likely that the washer, a small rubber ring, needs replacement.
2. Spindle Or Cartridge Problem – The spindle is made of brass and it helps in turning the tap on and off. If your tap doesn’t close tightly, that is, it continues to turn on after you have rotated enough, the spindle needs to be changed.
Things You Need To Fix A Leaky Tap
- Wrench (for pipes)
- Replacement spindle
- Replacement washer
- Plumber’s paste (optional)
- Thread (optional)
Turn off the water supply to the leaky tap. You could have one under the sink or you will have to turn off the mains tap. Next, turn on the leaky tap and store the remaining water in a bucket for future use.
Open the top cover of the tap using the sharp edge of a screwdriver. Some models may be different, but most will have a screw inside when you open the cover. This screw is screwed to the spindle. Unscrew it.
Remove the top part of the tap and the spindle will be exposed. Unscrew the spindle from the base of the tap with your hand or wrench. The washer will be attached to the spindle and can be seen after you open it.
Take the spindle to your nearest plumbing store and get an exact replacement (this is important), along with a washer. Washers are extremely cheap (INR 1 each!). You can even get a few extra and store for future use.
Fix the washer on the spindle as it was on the old one. Screw up the spindle on the base of the tap. If it feels a bit loose, or if the old one had thick threads on it, remove it and wound a thread on it and apply a bit of the plumber’s paste. The thread and plumber’s paste will be available at the same plumbing store.
After screwing the spindle on the base, tighten it using the wrench. Put the top part and screw it to the spindle. You can then plug the top cover.
Turn on the mains supply and check if there are any leaks. If there is any leak, you can open, apply more thread and paste, and tighten every screw. If this doesn’t help, call a professional.
Most Indian taps are similar mechanically, some may be different. If you are unsure, it is better to call a professional and see how he or she does it. Also, if you are going to replace your tap, do it with a new ‘half-turn’ one. Half turn taps are ones that do not have to be rotated a lot which usually damages the spindle in normal taps leading to leaks. Half turn taps have spindles made of ceramic and almost all of them come with a long warranty of 7 years or so. Also, do not forget to sell your old brass spindle to your recycler or kabadiwala, it will fetch a good value and help reduce waste 🙂